Gagne is "really close to 100-percent"
LW Simon Gagne (neck strain) was the last player off the ice for Saturday’s morning optional skate, doing extra skating while wearing the red (non-contact) jersey.
“I think it’s been so long I’m wearing the red jersey, so I think the trainers just put the red jersey every practice,” he joked.
But, after missing 18 games, Gagne said he’s getting “really close to 100-percent.” Though Gagne said the big test will be this week’s road trip, when he’ll get a chance to participate in two practices (Monday and Wednesday), giving him a better read on when he’ll be able to return. The team’s recent schedule had worked against Gagne, with few practices and mostly morning skates, which are “not even close a game, and not even close to a practice.”
“By yourself on the ice is one thing, feeling good shooting the puck, but when I go with boys on the ice, it’s a little bit more difficult,” he said. “So having a good practice will help me get closer to playing a game.”
The good news is Gagne said the pressure he was feeling in the front of his head after workouts has made a big improvement. He didn't want to say for sure when he thinks he'd play again, but there's a chance - if all goes well - he could return Thursday in Boston.
-- JOE SMITH